My Tips for Growing Tomatoes in the Southeast

by Crista
(East Tennessee)

In recent summers, we have tried growing tomatoes, but have not been successful due to widespread blight. This summer, our tomato plants are off to a good start and I thought I would share our best tomato tips.

First, tomatoes love sunlight! If you are trying to grow tomatoes in a shaded area, the flowers probably won't produce fruit.

Second, tomatoes like to be hot and dry. Note that this applies to the leaves, not the roots! You still need to water the plant regularly and consistently, to avoid cracking in the skin of the tomatoes. However, water close to the base of the plant's stem to avoid getting the leaves wet; wet leaves are a breeding ground for blight and rot. Watering close to the base also helps minimize splashing. Sometimes spores from blight or other diseases remain in the soil and can then ruin your tomatoes if they are splashed onto it. If you notice any browning of the leaves at the bottom of your tomato plants, pick these off and dispose of them (don't compost them since they could be diseased).

Another factoid about tomato plants is that they are susceptible to tobacco mosaic virus, so if you smoke cigarettes you should either wash your hands very well before or wear gloves while touching your plants.

My last tip for growing tomatoes applies for any vegetables--rotate your crops yearly. If you grow the same crops repeatedly in the same area, it will deplete the soil and your crop's success will decline. Rotating your crops allows the soil to rebuild.

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